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September 22, 2020 at 6:00 am · · Comments Off on The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Southgate, Scarborough

The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Southgate, Scarborough

In a multi-part series, exclusive to the Maine Real Estate Insider, we’ll provide an up-close look at the most notable commercial development projects of the past year that are helping to fuel Maine’s economy in terms of investment and job creation.  MEREDA is proud to recognize responsible development based upon criteria including environmental sustainability, economic impact, energy efficiency, difficulty of the development, uniqueness, social impact and job creation.

Our 2019 Top 7 recipients include:

62 Spring Street, Auburn, Anew Development / Auburn Housing
Founders Place Campus, Bangor, Bangor Savings Bank / CJ Developers
Cape Arundel Cottage Preserve, Arundel, Arundel-Kennebunkport Cottage Preserve, LLC
WEX Global Corporate Headquarters, Portland, Jonathan S. Cohen – 0 Hancock Street, LLC
Hannaford Center, Hampden, Good Shepherd Food Bank
Southgate, Scarborough, Avesta Housing
Station Square, Gorham, Great Falls Construction

MEREDA’s Board intended to honor the award winners at the 35th Anniversary Gala. Originally scheduled for the end of March 2020, the Gala was postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19. Though they may have their formal award delayed, these projects have only gained practical significance as they serve their communities–especially under additional strain and stress of these unprecedented times.  We look forward to formally recognizing these recipients at a future MEREDA event.

Please join us this week in celebrating Southgate in Scarborough.

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

Avesta Housing:  Southgate Apartments represents an exceptional example of historic preservation to meet the affordable housing needs of a community. Southgate is located at Dunston’s Corner in Scarborough and offers 38 much-needed affordable apartments for low-income families. The development consists of two separate buildings: a new 30-unit apartment building and the rehabilitation of a separate historic Federal Style brick farmhouse into eight apartments.

Prior to construction, the historic farmhouse was in serious disrepair. Over the past 200+ years the farmhouse had seen a variety of uses including a farm and country retreat, a restaurant and inn, and rental housing. As a result of these varied uses, the property had undergone multiple reconfigurations leading to significant deterioration rendering most of the units uninhabitable by modern building codes.

The new building is separate from this historic building. It was designed in a vocabulary that is reminiscent of an old barn to complement the historic farmhouse but with a contemporary entrance so as not to compete with the original historic structure.

Southgate’s expert development team included: Avesta Housing, developer and owner; Goduti-Thomas Architects, architect; Benchmark Construction, general contractor.

In addition to the development team, key partners included the Town of Scarborough, the Scarborough Housing Alliance, MaineHousing, the Maine State Historic Preservation Office, Boston Capital, Bangor Savings Bank, Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, NeighborWorks America, and Community Housing Capital.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project? 

Avesta Housing:  As gentrification continues to put pressure on local labor markets, it is vital that we provide safe, decent, and affordable housing for our workforce. For years, the Town of Scarborough has recognized the need for affordable housing in their community and has been actively encouraging new opportunities to create housing for a diverse range of incomes. Because of this project, 38 households will be able to stay in their communities, access quality schools, and be in close proximity to a variety of employment opportunities.

Avesta’s Southgate development project has breathed new life into an important Maine landmark. The original farmhouse was constructed in 1805 by Robert Southgate. It is an important part of Scarborough’s cultural heritage and one of the Town’s oldest surviving structures.  Currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the farmhouse offers one of the best examples of preserved Federal Style brick farmhouses in New England.

MEREDA:  That sounds like quite a process.  How long were you in the planning stages before construction started?

Avesta Housing:  After coming up short in several tax credit applications, Southgate finally received funding in 2017 (three years after purchase). During that time, construction costs rose significantly and additional layers of funding subsidies were necessary. Southgate represents a unique and lengthy mix of financial sources, including a TIF from the Town of Scarborough, a grant from the Scarborough Housing Alliance, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Federal and State Historic Tax Credits, and AHP funding from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. Southgate also received funds from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta.

MEREDA:  Tell us about the most challenging aspect of getting this project completed.

Avesta Housing:  The varying and intricate design of the historic building required high attention to detail. Given the ongoing labor shortages in the construction trades, it was often challenging to find skilled labor that could complete the work both on time and within the allotted budget. Unlike other more uniformly designed historic rehabs, such as schools and mill buildings, no two rooms were alike. While this adds to the elegance of the final product, it also presents challenges during construction.  An example of this was the replacement and refurbishment of the building’s historic windows. In total, the historic building has 44 windows comprised of 15 distinct window types.

MEREDA:  Something unexpected you learned along the way was….

Avesta Housing:  Southgate was Avesta’s first development in Scarborough. Each community we work in has different visions, resources, and challenges for creating affordable housing. Working with Town officials and the Scarborough Housing Alliance was a wonderful experience. Without their support this project would not have been possible. The Town went above and beyond to ensure that the project would meet the needs of the community while remaining proactive and flexible as issues arose. Our relationship with the Town was something we didn’t have before the start of this project but is something we look forward to continuing as we build more affordable homes in Maine.

MEREDA:  Now that it’s complete, what feature of the project do you think makes it the most notable? 

Avesta Housing:  By preserving one of the original Federal Style agricultural estates in Maine, Southgate has protected a cultural resource and connection to our past that was in jeopardy of being lost. In order to maintain the project’s feasibility during escalating construction prices, Avesta had to pursue a unique variety of funding sources. To the best of our knowledge, this project is the first in Maine to be awarded subsidy from two Federal Home Loan Banks for a single project.

In addition, 20% of Southgate apartments are preserved for households who have previously experienced or are at risk for homelessness. To help this population and our other residents succeed, Avesta is committed to provide services to foster greater financial awareness and self-sufficiency. These efforts include offering our residents free credit counseling, fraud avoidance, and homeownership courses. By supporting vulnerable populations and giving residents the tools to improve their own financial literacy, Southgate can contribute as a stabilizing force to our local economy and communities.

September 17, 2020 at 4:24 pm · · Comments Off on MEREDA to Host Virtual Fall Conference on the Future of Maine’s Economy

MEREDA to Host Virtual Fall Conference on the Future of Maine’s Economy

The Chamberlain Model: Back to the Future

For Immediate Release: (September 17, 2020)  On October 15, 2020, the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) will host a dynamic and forward-looking virtual conference on the future of Maine. As we all navigate the uncharted waters of our times, MEREDA and its members are looking to Maine’s success stories, both in the past and in current times, as a way to map our path forward. With much to be learned from the rich history of Maine, MEREDA’s Fall Conference brings together a line-up of exciting speakers and panelists to tie the history of this great state to the economy we face today.

“One of Maine’s favorite sons, Joshua Chamberlain, laid the groundwork for Maine’s future in his speech given in 1876 to celebrate America’s Centennial,” says MEREDA President Josh Fifield. “His vision still resonates in today’s pandemic economy and provides stepping stones for all of us as we work to create Maine’s future,” Fifield continues.

With Chamberlain’s words and vision as inspiration, MEREDA will host featured speakers Senator Angus King, University of Southern Maine (USM) President Dr. Glenn Cummings, and historian Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. They will discuss the risks and rewards of Chamberlain’s economic outline, outline USM’s plan for growth, and tell the story of Maine through its people.

Complementing these perspectives, Dr. Charles Colgan (Maine Center for Business and Economic Research, Former State Economist of Maine) will give a presentation on Maine’s current economy and provide an update on the key economic numbers that reflect the state of Maine’s real estate industry. He will be followed by Kim Hamilton, CEO of FocusMaine, who will speak about Maine’s great potential for growth in the global economy. The stage will then turn to a moderated discussion with four Maine companies experiencing growth during the COVID economy. Panelists will include Scott Wellman, CFO Puritan Medical Products; Amber Lambke, Founder & CEO Maine Grains; Seth Webber, Principal Berry Dunn; Briana Warner, CEO Atlantic Sea Farms. The panel will be moderated by Andrea Cianchette Maker, Esq. Pierce Atwood, LLP.

The conference will be safely presented in a virtual environment via LiveStream from 8 am to 12 pm on Thursday, October 15. 3 hours of Continuing Education Credits will be available for brokers and attorneys.

For more information, or to register for the conference please visit www.mereda.org.

This event is sponsored by AAA Energy Service Co., BCM Environmental & Land Law, CHA, Criterium Engineers, Maine Magazine, Mainebiz, People’s United Bank, Pierce Atwood, Sevee & Maher Engineers.

August 25, 2020 at 2:52 pm · · Comments Off on Join MEREDA at its next Virtual Event – Portland’s Eastern Waterfront: Three Creative Developers and their Visions

Join MEREDA at its next Virtual Event – Portland’s Eastern Waterfront: Three Creative Developers and their Visions

Thursday, September 24, 2020
8:30 – 9:30 AM

While this event is free of charge, registration is required.

Register Here

About the Event:

Description:  Seasoned developers David Bateman, Ara Aftandilian, and Jonathan Cohen have transformed Portland’s Eastern Waterfront into a sparkling mix of prestigious office buildings, hotels, restaurants, and residences. Moderator David Soley will focus the discourse on what is happening in this booming region – and the vision for the future.

Moderated by David A. Soley, Partner, Bernstein Shur / East Brown Cow

Our panelists include:

David Bateman, President, Bateman Partners LLC

Ara Aftandilian, President / Managing Member, EssexNorth Portland LLC

Jonathan Cohen, President, AD&W Architectural Doors & Windows

Register Here

August 25, 2020 at 6:00 am · · Comments Off on The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Cape Arundel Cottage Preserve, Arundel

The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Cape Arundel Cottage Preserve, Arundel

In a multi-part series, exclusive to the Maine Real Estate Insider, we’ll provide an up-close look at the most notable commercial development projects of the past year that are helping to fuel Maine’s economy in terms of investment and job creation.  MEREDA is proud to recognize responsible development based upon criteria including environmental sustainability, economic impact, energy efficiency, difficulty of the development, uniqueness, social impact and job creation.

Our 2019 Top 7 recipients include:

62 Spring Street, Auburn, Anew Development / Auburn Housing
Founders Place Campus, Bangor, Bangor Savings Bank / CJ Developers
Cape Arundel Cottage Preserve, Arundel, Arundel-Kennebunkport Cottage Preserve, LLC
WEX Global Corporate Headquarters, Portland, Jonathan S. Cohen – 0 Hancock Street, LLC
Hannaford Center, Hampden, Good Shepherd Food Bank
Southgate, Scarborough, Avesta Housing
Station Square, Gorham, Great Falls Construction

MEREDA’s Board intended to honor the award winners at the 35th Anniversary Gala. Originally scheduled for the end of March 2020, the Gala was postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19. Though they may have their formal award delayed, these projects have only gained practical significance as they serve their communities–especially under additional strain and stress of these unprecedented times.  We look forward to formally recognizing these recipients at a future MEREDA event.

Please join us this week in celebrating Cape Arundel Cottage Preserve in Arundel.

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

Arundel-Kennebunkport Cottage Preserve, LLC:  Cape Arundel Cottage Preserve (CACP), proud recipient of the NAHB 2018 BALA Award, is a distinctive seasonal cottage resort community near the south coast of Maine. Integrated into a landscape of bold granite outcrops, expansive Maine forests, natural wetlands and vernal pools the 300-acre project includes 263 charming cottages, community center and amenities, carefully designed into intimate neighborhoods to encourage family interaction.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project?  

Arundel-Kennebunkport Cottage Preserve, LLC:   The project was envisioned to satisfy a market for seasonal homes set in a community setting in Southern Maine providing access to the natural beauty, culture and growing vibrant urban scenes within the Coastal Maine and Kennebunkport-Arundel area.

MEREDA:  That sounds like quite a process.  How long were you in the planning stages before construction started?

Arundel-Kennebunkport Cottage Preserve, LLC:  5 years

MEREDA:  Tell us about the most challenging aspect of getting this project completed. 

Arundel-Kennebunkport Cottage Preserve, LLC:  In one-word Granite! This project has taken a constraint – granite and ledge throughout – and found an opportunity by integrating ledge into all aspects of the project – from flowing masonry and boulder walls to natural water features and exposed granite throughout and building veneer.  As a sustainable practice, ledge was crushed onsite to create gravels for use in construction, reducing the carbon footprint of additional trucking of materials to the site.

Additionally – protecting the natural resources – wetlands, vernal pools, streams onsite and designing a stormwater management system which respects and complements these assets.

MEREDA:  Something unexpected you learned along the way was….

 Arundel-Kennebunkport Cottage Preserve, LLC:  How the natural setting and topography influenced the connection between the built and natural environment.  An example is engineering boulder walls to minimize tree cutting and satisfy grading requirements on difficult topography resulting in magnificent western sunset views from cottages.  Secondly the positive impact this project has had on the local Arundel-Kennebunkport communities – not just economically but raising the bar in creating a sense of place.

MEREDA:  Now that it’s complete, what feature of the project do you think makes it the most notable? 

Arundel-Kennebunkport Cottage Preserve, LLC:  The integration of site design, landscaping and architecture that is representative of the Maine vernacular.

 

July 21, 2020 at 12:05 pm · · Comments Off on Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) Announces Appointments to its Board of Directors

Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) Announces Appointments to its Board of Directors

PORTLAND, ME (July 21, 2020) – Rebecca West Greenfield, Partner at Pierce Atwood, and resident of Yarmouth, and Anthony Calcagni of Falmouth, Partner at Verrill, have been elected to the board of directors of the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA), a statewide organization of commercial real estate owners, developers and related service providers.

Rebecca West Greenfield maintains a transactional commercial real estate practice involving acquisitions, dispositions, development, leasing, finance, and title and land use analysis. She has particular expertise in project finance for new and existing real estate developments.

Rebecca has represented regional real estate developers, educational institutions, lenders and other commercial entities in a wide array of development and lending transactions involving hotels and resort properties, office buildings, campus expansions, residential subdivisions, and other commercial properties. Her experience extends to certain specialized areas as well, including advising clients in the space of commercial mortgage backed securitized loans and the defeasance of such securitized loans, timberland transactions, and preparation of registration reports pursuant to the requirements of the Federal Interstate Land Sales Disclosure Act.

Anthony Calcagni joined Verrill Dana in 1994. Tony’s real estate practice has focused on acquisitions, development and leasing of commercial property, easements and title matters, zoning and land use, and community associations. Tony has represented the developers of several of the largest wind power projects in the State of Maine. He has served as Chair of Verrill’s Real Estate Department since 2010.

Since 2007, Tony has been recognized in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, and listed in The Best Lawyers in America under Real Estate Law. He was accepted as a Fellow of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers in 2015. Tony served as Chair of the Maine State Bar Association’s Real Estate and Title Section from 2016-2018, and served on the Town of Falmouth Planning Board from 2002-2009 (serving as Chair from 2007-2009).

MEREDA’s Vice President of Operations, Shelly R. Clark says, “Pierce Atwood and Verrill have all been longtime supporters of MEREDA, and Rebecca and Tony will be great additions to the Board of Directors. We look forward to their active participation on our various committees and we are excited to begin working more closely with each of them.”

For further information, please contact MEREDA’s Vice President of Operations, Shelly R. Clark at info@mereda.org or visit www.mereda.org.

July 14, 2020 at 8:37 am · · Comments Off on The Outstanding Seven: MEREDA’s 2019 Notable Project Recipients

The Outstanding Seven: MEREDA’s 2019 Notable Project Recipients

PORTLAND, ME – July 13, 2020 –  Every spring, MEREDA recognizes the most noteworthy and significant Maine commercial development projects from the previous year, all of which embody the Association’s mission to support responsible development.

In keeping with tradition, MEREDA’s Board intended to honor the award recipients at the 35th Anniversary Gala. Originally scheduled for the end of March 2020, the Gala was postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19. Though they may have their formal award delayed, these projects have only gained practical significance as they serve their communities–especially under additional strain and stress of these unprecedented times.

In 2019, these seven projects distinguished themselves in design, construction, land-use, and added benefit to their communities.

Hannaford Center, Good Shepherd Food Bank (Hampden) which renovated the former Bangor Daily News printing press building, allowing the Food Bank to purchase and distribute more food, more frequently and efficiently to northern, central, and Downeast Maine.

Cape Arundel Cottage Preserve, Arundel-Kennebunkport Cottage Preserve LLC (Arundel) for creating an overwhelming sense of place and cohesive design on a 300-acre project, using sustainable practices and natural landscapes.

62 Spring Street, Auburn Housing & Anew Development (Auburn), for its diversity and vibrancy, epitomizing the “Smart Growth” concept which successfully connects the dots between affordable housing, city walkability, economic energy, and downtown growth.

Founders Place Campus, Bangor Savings Bank and CJ Developers (Bangor), for the creative and extensive implementation of environmental systems and capacity to spur talented business growth to Bangor.

Southgate Avesta Housing (Scarborough), for the preservation and creative renovation of a 215 year-old farmhouse as a vibrant community of 38 safe, quality, and affordable homes through the incredible support of partners and donors.

Station Square, Great Falls Construction (Gorham), for the thoughtful and intentional preservation of Gorham’s historic identity as a railroad village, with equal emphasis on the community invitation to work, live, and play while employing Mainers.

WEX Global Corporate Headquarters, Jonathan S. Cohen & 0 Hancock Street LLC (Portland), for a statement of responsible development, innovation, and modernity, using lean construction principles kept work flowing and the project on track, and continuously emphasizing sustainability and energy efficiency.

MEREDA thanks its Membership for their continued commitment to responsible development in Maine, and looks forward to formally and tangibly recognizing these Notable Projects when it is safe to do so. In the meantime, each project will be recognized with its own article in the Maine Real Estate Insider e-newsletter published by Mainebiz, running Summer of 2020.

For more information on these impressive projects, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 2, 2020 at 11:04 am · · Comments Off on Maine Real Estate & Development Association Names New President and Announces 2020-2022 Officers

Maine Real Estate & Development Association Names New President and Announces 2020-2022 Officers

Portland resident, Josh Fifield, a Senior Account Executive in the Business Insurance Department of Clark Insurance is the new president of the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA), a statewide organization of commercial real estate owners, developers and related service providers. Founded in 1985, MEREDA promotes responsible development and ownership of real estate in Maine through legislative advocacy, educational programs and professional networking opportunities.

As a Senior Account Executive at Clark Insurance, a 100% Employee Owned insurance agency headquartered in Portland, Maine, Josh has over 16-years of experience as an advocate and trusted insurance advisor.   He developed an exceptional skill set starting his insurance career as an Underwriter for Maine Employers Mutual Insurance Company.

As an employee owner, he is responsible for the continued and successful growth of Clark Insurance by providing its customers with comprehensive business insurance solutions and related safety and risk management services. His focus is on the unique needs of New England’s real estate and development focused businesses, providing agency-wide services such as 24-hour claims assistance, competitive plans, exceptional customer service, and safety & risk consulting services.

An active member of his community, Josh has coached a variety of youth sports and has been the Safety Director for the Portland Little League.

In MEREDA, Josh started volunteering as a committee member on the Marketing & Membership Committee in early 2014. In 2017, Josh was recognized as one of two Volunteers of the Year. He has remained actively engaged as the co-chair of MEREDA’s Marketing & Membership committee and more recently as MEREDA’s Vice President of the Board of Directors.

Josh succeeds Gary D. Vogel, attorney at Drummond Woodsum who has led MEREDA for the past two years. “Gary’s steady leadership during these unprecedented times has shown how well MEREDA was able to quickly pivot in order to continue our statewide advocacy efforts and create informative and responsive virtual events including the MEREDA INDEX and COVID-19’s immediate impact to Maine’s development industry”, said Fifield. “I welcome the opportunity to help guide MEREDA through these challenging times, all the while continuing to maintain its unparalleled pursuit of advocating on behalf of its members.

“MEREDA also announced its 2020 / 2022 slate of officers which include President Josh Fifield of Clark Insurance, Vice Presidents Shannon Richards of Hay Runner and Craig Young of The Boulos Company, Treasurer Mark Stasium of Camden National Bank, and Secretary Shelly R. Clark, who also serves full time as MEREDA’s Vice President of Operations.

L-R: Josh Fifield, Shannon Richards, Craig Young, Mark Stasium, Shelly Clark

June 30, 2020 at 10:07 am · · Comments Off on Maine Issues COVID-19 Guidance for Town Meetings

Maine Issues COVID-19 Guidance for Town Meetings

Throughout the pandemic, MEREDA members have navigated participating in various town public proceedings conducted virtually. Now, with the opening of municipal buildings and the need to accommodate municipal matters requiring a public vote by town residents, Governor Mills and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) have released guidelines for holding town and public meetings during COVID-19, consistent with the Governor’s Executive Order 56 (Order 56).

For developers with projects that require ordinance amendments or contract zone approvals at town meeting, these provisions will affect how the town conducts the debate and vote on those matters.

The DECD guidance offers three options to allow towns to hold public meetings safely and effectively. The key requirements of each option are:

  1. Indoor or outdoor town meetings of 50 or fewer individuals. Under this option, town officials must limit the number of individuals that gather in a shared space. The town must have a backup plan to ensure that voters are not turned away in the event that the total number of participants exceeds 50, including voters, clerks, and town officials. Microphones should not be passed from person to person, and ballots should be collected by a ballot clerk with a collection receptacle rather than passed from hand to hand.
  1. Drive-in town meetings. If the number of attendees is anticipated to exceed 50 individuals, the DECD recommends organizing a drive-in meeting where individuals can remain inside their vehicles in an outdoor space where vehicles can be spaced a minimum of six feet apart. The outdoor space should have a clear entrance where voters check in upon arrival for voting, and voting should occur by distributing colored cards of sufficient size to allow “show of hands” voting through vehicle windows. Towns should ensure that there are appropriate social distancing procedures in place if an individual needs to exit their vehicle to use shared public facilities, such as restrooms, or to offer public comment.
  1. Indoor town meetings using multiple rooms within one facility. If the number of attendees exceeds 50 individuals, towns may choose to hold a meeting in different rooms within one facility, such as a school. Organizers should utilize technology to maintain the continuous ability for all voters in attendance to hear all discussions and motions, and to allow real-time voting in each meeting room. A deputy moderator should be present in each meeting room to facilitate voting. Gathering in common areas prior to or after the meeting should be discouraged.

The DECD also highlights a number of common practices that municipalities should follow across all three options described above, including:

  • All individuals should maintain six feet of distance at all times.
  • All individuals should wear face coverings at all times, but at a minimum during any interaction with an individual outside of their household group, such as during check-in. While the use of face coverings is strongly encouraged, officials may not turn away participants for failing to comply with the face-covering recommendation.
  • Individuals checking in voters and collecting and distributing ballots should wear a face shield in addition to a face covering.
  • Towns must provide a separate location for non-voters or members of the public to view and listen to the proceedings.
  • Towns should consider putting restrictions in place so that individuals who are at a higher risk of illness-e.g., those over age 65 or those with underlying medical conditions-are not responsible for checking in voters and/or collecting ballots. Towns should also train election workers on hand hygiene, social distancing guidelines, proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and cleaning protocols.
  • If a town hosts a meeting indoors, then it must provide a separate space for isolating an individual who becomes ill during the meeting. Towns should also take steps to improve indoor air ventilation and prop open doors where possible to decrease the spread of germs.
  • In general, meeting organizers should take steps to notify the public of all policies and procedures through signage and other means of communication, modify traffic flows and eliminate lines, and provide adequate supplies for personal hygiene, including hand sanitizer and disinfecting soap.

If a municipality cannot comply with the gathering protocols outlined in the DECD guidance, the governor’s executive order also authorizes municipal officials to hold a vote on a matter at the ballot box instead of at an in-person town meeting.

June 10, 2020 at 11:15 am · · Comments Off on The 2020 MEREDA Index: A Look at the 2019 Data and a Review of Current Conditions

The 2020 MEREDA Index: A Look at the 2019 Data and a Review of Current Conditions

On Thursday, June 4th, MEREDA unveiled its 2020 MEREDA Index, at a free-to-attend virtual event to discuss the 2019 data, and apply that knowledge to today’s constantly-shifting landscape and unpredictable future.  The event had nearly 150 registrants. In case you missed it, you can watch, or watch it again, here

This most recent release provides a review of 2019’s full calendar year. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic striking right before the 2019 Index unveiling, even recent history lost importance as global focus shifted instantly to the uncertain future. Insightfully, MEREDA leadership pivoted just as quickly, adding a preview of 2020 based on first quarter data.
This year marks the first year that we have revised the timing of the Index so that an entire calendar year is presented when the Index is unveiled.   The current MEREDA Index contains a measurement and presentation of the real estate market in Maine, and its various components for all of 2019.   Rather than presenting the Index through the third quarter of the preceding year at our annual January Forecast Conference, and then producing a second edition with a full calendar year of data, the Index is now presented once a year in the spring, with an entire year of data.

Because of the great changes that have occurred in a very short period of time beginning in March 2020, and because of the relevance of the 2020 data showing the initial impact of the virus, we asked Dr. Charles Colgan, the economist who prepares the Index, to include some first quarter 2020 data in a supplement to the Index that is included in the index presentation.

We have many people to thank!  Firstly, thank you to those involved in providing commentary found in our Print Edition and accompanying Video, which can be accessed on our website.  Providing insights into the residential sector was Mark Small of Landmark Realty, Jessica Estes of The Boulos Company spoke about the commercial sector, and Patrick Ducas of Ducas Construction spoke on construction.

Thank you also to those folks participating in our June 4th webinar.  In an effort to broaden the discussion even further, we asked additional MEREDA members to provide supplementary perspectives on the residential, commercial, and construction sectors. The webinar included Tim Soley of East Brown Cow discussing the commercial sector, Dava Davin of Portside Real Estate Group covered the residential sector, and the construction sector was covered by Kevin French of Landry/French Construction.

Many thanks also, to MEREDA president Gary Vogel, for taking the lead on the June 4th webinar as moderator, and to Dr. Charles Colgan, for always providing an incisive analysis for our members.

May 12, 2020 at 9:44 am · · Comments Off on Construction Businesses: Navigating State and Federal COVID-19 Workplace Safety Requirements

Construction Businesses: Navigating State and Federal COVID-19 Workplace Safety Requirements

On April 28, Governor Mills released Restarting Maine’s Economy, which lays out a plan for re-opening non-essential businesses. Businesses that were previously deemed essential, including construction businesses, may continue operations – the Governor’s new plan does not impact them.

However, as the pandemic evolves, the State is shifting its attention to COVID-19 prevention and workplace safety. In light of this, this is a good time for construction businesses to review their workplace safety protocols to ensure compliance with the latest state and federal guidance on COVID-19 prevention.

Below are the compliance checklists and guidance documents that construction businesses need to follow as they continue operations and begin the summer construction season.

Maine

  • Department of Labor: Guidance for Construction Employers in Maine for Addressing COVID-19. This Department of Labor (DOL) guidance document provides recommendations and suggestions for construction businesses to implement COVID-19 prevention measures, including those in the DECD checklist. This DOL guidance includes, and overlaps with, much of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommendations for COVID-19, discussed below.

Federal

  • OSHA General Guidance: Preparing the Workplace for COVID-19. This comprehensive general guidance document covers OSHA recommendations for COVID-19 prevention for all business types.
  • This document classifies all job types for risk of COVID-19 infection. Most construction workers will fall under the low-risk category. OSHA has provided a useful one-page reference guide to understand worker classifications.  Construction businesses are expected to review the classifications and implement risk-appropriate controls and prevention measures.
  • OSHA Construction Business Guidance: COVID-19 Guidance for the Construction Workforce. This one-page guidance document provides an overview of the prevention controls and measures that all construction businesses need to implement based on the general guidance above.

To ensure full compliance, construction businesses are advised to refer to all four sets of guidance.  While there are overlaps among them, each one of them contains information that pertains to reducing workers’ risks of contracting COVID-19 on the worksite.